Message from the Dean


Penelope PetersonIn this issue of Inquiry, we focus on innovation. Roget's Thesaurus defines innovation as "a change, a new-fangled idea or a leading-edge development." As a School, we have had a long history of many types of innovation.

In 1981, we were the first School of Education in the nation to create a doctoral program in Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP). The overarching aim of HDSP research is to improve human lives by examining and understanding how policies affect the lives of people through the life course and how people can analyze and affect policy. The HDSP program does so by promoting interdisciplinary understanding of how people develop and how various experiences and contexts affect human lives.

In 1991, we became the first School of Education to develop a doctoral program in Learning Sciences. The goal of the research and development efforts of the Learning Sciences program is to create pedagogical, technological and social policy innovations aimed at improving education. In addition to studying innovation, faculty in the interdisciplinary Learning Sciences program focus on designing and implementing learning environments and technologies with a reform agenda.

While other education schools have now created doctoral programs in HDSP and Learning Sciences, our School remains the leader in these two areas. Herein we describe a series of different kinds of innovations that have emerged from the sustained research and development of HDSP and Learning Sciences faculty over the years. These range from technology-based innovations designed to improve reading comprehension and undergraduate engineering education to research-based innovations in housing policies designed to help low-income families.

In our Strategic Plan for 2007-2010, we describe how our School will continue to innovate and refine our niche to maintain our comparative advantage. If you would like a copy of our Strategic Plan, please feel free to e-mail or call me (847/467-1190) to request a copy.


Best wishes,




Penelope L. Peterson, Dean
By Penelope Peterson